But hot, dry weather is never a deterrent to the die-hard dove hunters who haunt the fly-ways west of San Antonio, just an hour from us here at Joshua Creek Ranch. In fact, there’s an interesting phenomenon that usually occurs when dove season opens September 1st – it starts to rain around the area…maybe not a lot, but enough to make zillions of puddles and scatter the birds to the dismay of the hunters scouting for the best fields. A sort of hide-and-seek game ensues between the dove and hunters. Huge flocks of birds may be here today, gone tomorrow, back the next day, then disappear for a week only to return, having gained the skill for judging shotgun range and how to avoid hunter ambush hangouts. And on and on goes the game, creating excitement one day and dashing spirits the next. It’s an annual cycle avid dove hunters anticipate with a passion.
There’s a lot of preparation that goes into dove hunters’ plans as September approaches, one of which is shooting practice. Clay shooting venues like ours see a rush of events aimed at taking full advantage of the vast number of hunters looking for a practice opportunity. The two or three weekends prior to September 1st are reserved well in advance for charity shoots by wise fund-raisers who learned long ago that maximum capacity registration is not unusual in late August. And for the hunters, it’s a win-win chance to prep for the opening of dove season and support non-profit organizations at the same time.
These charity shoots are one of our favorite activities at Joshua Creek Ranch. Even hard-core clay shooters come out knowing it’s all for fun and to benefit a good cause. Winning the competition becomes secondary when talk turns to the real purpose of raising money to provide assistance to folks needing some help. Whether it’s to benefit a nationwide organization, the local volunteer fire department or even an individual or family who’s been dealt a challenging hand, a spirit of genuine concern and generosity prevails. Even forgiveness is easily given when the volunteers hosting the event have some organizational shortcomings. The atmosphere invariably results in an astounding, “yes, let’s do this again next year this time.”
And the team at Joshua Creek Ranch is equally enthusiastic about the opportunity to be the host site for these charity shoots year after year. They’re a welcome break in our summer schedule which generally sees us doing lots of work and very little play as we prepare for the next hunting season.
So right on the heels of the last charity shoot of the summer on the last weekend of August, comes the start of the wingshooting season. I know a bunch of hunters who are well-rehearsed for downing those darting, illusive dove this September. They’ve been practicing at the charity shoots hosted here all summer long.
Ann Kercheville is President of Joshua Creek Ranch. Located in the renowned Texas Hill Country just 45 minutes northwest of San Antonio and 90 minutes southwest of Austin, Joshua Creek Ranch occupies a uniquely diverse terrain including miles of Joshua Creek and Guadalupe River bottomland planted in fields of grain crops for prime upland and deer hunting habitats. You can visit their web site at http://www.joshuacreek.com.